Drama at the School Board Meeting


George Yuhas being escorted out by police.

“That’s crazy!”

“That’s brave!”

“That’s illegal!”

“That’s stupid!” 

Exclamations flooded the house of the Auditorium. As two police officers imposingly closed the distance between them and the gentleman at the podium, other student representatives and I exchanged glances. Everyone was patiently waiting to see the outcome of the meeting.

On Feb. 13, the Hatboro-Horsham School District held a Special Legislative School Board Meeting. Agenda items included a brief presentation from Crooked Billet Elementary School students about their “Student Leadership Program” and approval of a three-year collective bargaining agreement between Hatboro-Horsham School District and the Hatboro-Horsham Education Association (HHEA). Said agreement would reestablish the teacher union to “cover the compensation, benefits, and working conditions of almost 400 classroom teachers, special educators, school counselors, and school nurses represented by HHEA.” 

As Superintendent Dr. Scott Eveslage started his statement to introduce the agreement’s details, a man wearing a “PRESS” lanyard came up to the podium interrupting the speech. 

“Objection! I object!” he shouted into the turned-off microphone. “My name is George Yuhas, and this meeting is illegal. You are violating the law by continuing this meeting. You have not posted the Agenda items online 24 hours prior to the meeting. I was on your webpage, it’s not there!”

Dr. Eveslage responded, “There is an agenda online of the topics. This text of my statement is not, but we will provide the press…”

“What you’re doing is illegal,” the man interrupted.

“This is not the time for public comment.”

“You need to adjourn the meeting!”

“We will offer a response to the press and give you a press release at the conclusion…”

“The documents aren’t there!”

The spar between the Board’s request for Mr. Yuhas to sit down and Mr. Yuhas’ reluctance to do so resulted in two consecutive recesses. Even the arrival of the police force, which put the marching band practice in the gym into an unexpected lockdown, was not able to resolve the conflict.

HH civics teacher Mr. Bryan Moore, who usually attends all public School Board meetings, explained his perspective:

I remember a gentleman standing up and disrupting the board meeting itself claiming sui juris. He said that the entire board meeting was illegal because they hadn’t provided the tentative collective bargaining agreement between the district and the local teacher union which he claimed was mandatory by Sunshine Law. In fact, it’s not. As it’s been explained to me, under the Sunshine Law in Pennsylvania, the only thing that must be published ahead of time is the agenda. Because a tentative collective bargaining agreement isn’t a contract yet, nobody has the right to see it, because it hasn’t been adopted yet. I believe Dr. Eveslage chose to publish it a few hours before the meeting, but I don’t think he was under any legal obligation to do so.”

Superintendent Dr. Scott Eveslage commented:

“Ms. Johnson, our solicitor, indicated that we heard the objection, noted it, ruled on it and tried to move on the meeting. The attendee did not accept that and continued to speak above the business of the board. So we adjourned, tried to resume, adjourned again and ultimately decided to resume and continue the board’s business despite this level of disruption. We encourage the public to participate in our meetings either through attending or sharing comments and perspectives. We just expect those to be done in the manner under a decorum which the board has already approved how people may participate.”

At the School Board meetings, there are two sections when members of the community can publicly speak at the podium: before the vote on the Agenda items and after the committee and liaison reports. George Yuhas, the person protesting the legality of the meeting, was technically violating the guidelines of the School Board that regulate public comment sessions. 

“I feel like he was not there for the children but for himself,” junior Ariana Bertrand, who was also there as a Student Representative, said. “He never once talked about the HH students at the place where students should be the focal point of discussion.”

Arina’s view of the confrontation.

 On the contrary, one of Mr. Yuhas’ supporters and frequent guests of the Board meetings, Mrs. Barbara Murphy, disagreed that his behavior was unreasonable. 

“It was the people that were rambunctious in the audience, not the gentleman. He was fully aware of the laws, and that’s the reason why the police couldn’t do anything because he was respectful. [In response to his objection, the Board] either had to deny formally or they had to repair the problem, which they refused to do, but he stood there very calmly and quietly. I came as a concerned parent to speak as well as to be a spectator. The authorities knew that there was nothing that he was doing wrong. They knew he was here legally and that they could not remove him because it was an open meeting. We’re hopeful that it changes something. We want them to follow the law. We want them to follow the constitution.”

Coincidentally, HH students were present in the school building, volunteering their time in preparations for Red and Black week. Some of them came down to the Auditorium, drawn by the drama. They sat down in the last rows around the time of the second recess and quickly became invested in that day’s business. 

One of the students present, senior Ava Murphy commented, “I had come down after Red and Black painting to see what the commotion was only to see the members of the board going to a recess and people with stern faces. I believe this incident showed how interactions with the school boards have increased in frequency and severity. We had exchanged brief words with the police officers who came to calm the situation and they seemed tired of the drama.”

Last Monday, Feb. 27, George Yuhas did not return to our district for the Legislative School Board meeting. Later, the School Board found out that he has a history of attending and speaking at different School Board meetings that he may not be affiliated with. Living in Tunkhannock, he travels across the state to have an opportunity to stand up for what he believes in. Before, he was escorted by police to his seat after disrupting another Board meeting in a different district for a similar cause.